Kokanee Salmon returning to spawn.

“What is a fish without a river? What is a bird without a tree to nest in? What is an Endangered Species Act without any enforcement mechanism to ensure their habitat is protected? It is nothing.” – Jay Inslee

CutBoard Studio spent a week in beautiful Wenatchee, Washington at the 2017 Salmon Recovery Conference. Thank you to the co-sponsors of the event: Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Long Live the Kings, Pyramid Communications, and the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board.

So why would a production studio from Spokane spend a week in Wenatchee?

Well, we love learning about salmon, other native fishes, and the Columbia River basin, of course! And don’t forget about our PBS series Way of the Columbia.

This conference gave us the perfect opportunity to meet all the great people that have a like-minded interest in salmon recovery.

Aaron filming at Vantage, Washington

We had the opportunity to attend a great breakout session (Telling Your Salmon Story Is Imperative to Your Success: Tools You’ll Need to Craft and Deliver It). And as you might know, CutBoard Studio is all about telling the stories right.

And to break it down for you. Here are three principles to success in telling stories: Quality, Inspiration & Reach.

First, what constitutes quality? And, how can you achieve it in your storytelling?

The biggest investment is using the proper equipment for the right application. This is where it can get expensive.

Yes, consumer level equipment is getting better every day. With every new iPhone, it bridges the gap by a few inches. But when the gap was already miles apart, the technology still has a way to go.

But wait! There’s more! ... mics, lenses, filters, reflectors, lights, computers, and software all come into play when producing quality video and images.

And don’t forget about education and experience. Video production is a hands-on game. It’s all about applying correct framing, lighting and even interview techniques.

As your teacher always said, “Practice makes perfect”.

When you hire a professional studio not only are you getting to use the higher-end equipment CutBoard has, you also get the wealth of experience we bring.

Have you ever wondered how professionals get interviews to sound great? A quality lav mic is just the start. The real trick lies in utilizing a two-camera system. Reducing a long run on sentence, an awkward pause or slip-ups in speech now become possible.

Now that you know how to achieve quality in your video and pictures the second step is finding inspiration.

Take a deep breath ... we will let you in on a secret to what inspires.

It’s you.

“My strength is from the fish; my blood is from the fish, from the roots and berries. The fish and game are the essence of my life. I was not brought from a foreign country and did not come here. I was put here by the Creator.” – Chief Weninock, Yakama, 1915

Indian women preparing fish feast

Indian women preparing fish feast, 1954, Thompson, John W., State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov, 01/05/17.

No one is more qualified to provoke feelings about your life, your work or your business.

What makes you keep going every day? What problems are you facing? Who is holding you back? Where can the future take you? How are you going to accomplish it? Why is it important?

These are questions that we ask when approaching topics to cover. Great storytelling and copywriting starts by asking a lot of questions.

Are you ready to answer the questions?

We sure are!

We’ll take a moment here to address fisheries projects in regards to funding and public knowledge. And why we started producing Way of the Columbia.

The problem we noticed was a lack of public understanding of fisheries science in the Columbia River Basin. We had been seeing over-glorified productions like “Damnation” gaining traction even with little or no scientific facts.

This was huge.

Millions of dollars are being spent to restore and rehabilitate native fish and the watershed. And crazy enough, there has been little to no public awareness of how or why this is important.

So this is where we started. Listening to scientists, engineers, historians, and volunteers gave us the inspiration to move forward.

Onward Ho!

This brings us to the final step of distribution or more commonly put “who’s your audience”?

Your audience is important. And please don’t say, “everyone”.

Not even tv shows or movies try to reach everyone. They have targeted demos. Just think about it. Star Wars or The Notebook; two entirely different audiences both pulling in millions of viewers and avid followers.

So, to bring this back around to Way of the Columbia we had to think about how to best benefit the stories we had been hearing. Yes, we could have created one inspiring, high-quality production and ran the “film festival” circuits. All the while winning awards and drumming up our base.

But, this was not our goal.

We wanted to reach the general public, those interested in education, science, and the northwest.

Where would find this audience?

We looked into PBS. They state, “Public Television provides a unique opportunity for local businesses and organizations to not only support quality informational and education programming but also to reach an incredible audience of highly educated, affluent and influential people who are extremely loyal to our station and community. For area businesses and organizations, this provides a unique and valuable marketing opportunity to enhance brand awareness in our community.”

Educational. Influential. Local community.

So we sat down with Cary Balzer, Program Manager of KSPS in Spokane to pitch the show idea. The PBS demographic was the best match to the story we were looking to tell.

They thought the idea was a great fit for their programming and encouraged us to move forward on the idea.

Then the pesky items of how to budget and acquire sponsorships came into play. Because we knew once we had the funds the stories would flow right in.

Thanks to the assistance from Bonneville Power Administration and Northwest RiverPartners we were able to start the production of the series.

As CutBoard started filming across the northwest we ran into others that had the same goal of connecting their projects to the public. Even though every episode wasn't directly about their fisheries project, everything we were filming would be a benefit the entire basin.

Thanks to Grant County PUD, Yakama Nation Fisheries and the Foundation for Water & Energy Education for signing on for the series premiere of Way of the Columbia.

We love presenting the fisheries recovery projects that educate and inform influential people in our area, inspiring them to take action to preserve and protect our natural resources.

Most of all to tell the stories.

There is nothing better than high-quality, inspirational stories being shared throughout the northwest.

Catch CutBoard Studio's TV series Way of the Columbia on KSPS (Spokane), Northwest Public Television (KWSU/Pullman & KTNW/Tri-cities). Coming to KBTC (Tacoma) in June 2017, and OPB (Portland) schedule is TBD.

KSPS first airing of Way of the Columbia schedule

Want to be part of season two of Way of the Columbia? Check out our current sponsorship levels.

Do you have a story to tell? We’d love to hear about it.

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